Pastor Greg Laurie, senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, recently shared how temptation can be effective in the life of a believer and highlighted the keys to overcoming temptations and gain ground for the Kingdom of God.
In beginning his message titled "The Temptation of a World Changer", Laurie said that in the Old Testament, Joseph was faced with tremendous temptation - because "the devil always sets his sights on those who are the greatest threats to his kingdom." However, God can use anything - even temptation and testing- to positively impact the life of a believer.
Despite being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and bought by Potiphar, a high-ranking Egyptian official, Joseph wasn't intimidated- because the Lord was with him.
"Do you know the Lord is with you, too?" Laurie asked the congregation. "If you're a Christian, the Lord is with you...Wherever you go, Jesus is there - Jesus wants to bless you.
Joseph excelled at his duties and became one of Potiphar's most trusted servants and was put in charge of his household: "Joseph was a model of how a Christian should function in the workplace," Laurie explained. "Joseph worked with complete integrity...You want to be a good witness? Be a good worker. Before anything else - that earns you the right to share your faith...If you work with integrity, if you work hard, realizing that your ultimate boss...is the Lord, and you do whatever you do as unto the Lord, it'll change everything around you."
Often, temptation hits when we become too comfortable with our circumstances and fail to acknowledge the Lord, taking a "spiritual vacation" - and that's exactly when it hit Joseph.
Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce Joseph, and when her advances were rebuffed, she falsely accused him of attempted rape. Joseph, although innocent in the matter, was cast into prison.
"You know one of the best ways to stay out of temptation? Stay away from it as much as you can," Laurie advised. "The Bible says, 'Resist the devil and he will flee from you.' It doesn't say, 'Have extended conversations with the devil.'"
So, how do we overcome temptation? First, everyone will be tempted. However, it can be an indication that you are on the right track, because temptation isn't a sin; rather, it's a call to battle.
Jesus himself was tempted at the beginning and end of his ministry: "If [Jesus] faced it...do you think it'll be any different for us?" he asked. "Temptation will always hit."
Second, like Joseph, we must understood there are consequences to sin: "Before you go into sin..think about the repercussions, think about how it'll affect your spouse, your children, your parents," Laurie advised.
Third, God's standards are absolute and never change: "God's word does not change, even if culture changes," the pastor said. "We live in a time where wrong is perceived as right, and right is perceived as wrong. Wrong is wrong, even if you don't get caught. Wrong is wrong, even if others are doing far worse. Wrong is wrong, even if it doesn't bother your conscience."
Laurie quoted evangelist Billy Graham as saying, "Christ can re-sensitize your conscience."
"If you're doing something right now the Bible says you should not be doing and you don't feel bad about it, you need to pray God will re-sensitize your conscience," he said. "You shouldn't let your conscience be your guide..because it can mislead you. The Bible should always be your guide. It's the one thing...you can be certain of."
Finally, like Joseph, we must realize that all sin is against God: "Sometimes you need to run as fast as you can," Laurie said. "Put as much distance between it and you as you possibly can. There is a blessing waiting for the man or woman who resists temptation."
He concluded: "The greatest deterrent for sin is our love for God. Do you have a personal relationship with God? Is Christ living in you?"
In June, Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie will hold its annual Harvest America outreach in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area. A nationwide simulcast of the program will be made available to thousands of host locations across the country and will originate from the University of Phoenix Stadium.